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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Blanc, Nero: The Crossword Murder

  Amazon  

4 stars

In this series opener of the pseudonymous Nero Blanc's crossword mysteries, private eye Rosco Polycrates investigates the murder of crossword editor Thompson Briephs. Briephs is a scion of the local aristocracy, the son of imposing patrician Sara Briephs and the nephew of her brother, democratic senator Hal Crane. Briephs is also a bit of a loon. Eschewing his family's more traditionally tasteful lifestyle, Briephs lives alone on an island in a house that was built to his specifications, a labyrinthine, red-walled replica of an ancient Minoan palace. This is unlikely in the extreme, of course, but it does provide an excuse for numerous classical references in the book, including a quotation from Sophocles' Ajax: "Silence gives the proper grace to women."

The character quoting Sophocles with disapproval is a crossword editor herself, Thompson Briephs's counterpart in a rival newspaper. Anabelle Graham is beautiful and intelligent, capable of reciting a list of four-letter Greek goddesses even in trying circumstances, and she is, unfortunately for Rosco, married. As the solution of Briephs's murder depends on the solution of a series of crossword puzzles--anticipating his demise, Briephs left clues--Belle becomes involved with Rosco's investigation and interested in the private eye himself.

Although The Crossword Mystery strains credibility in its description of Briephs's island home, the book is a good read, and the hesitant flirtation between Rosco and Belle is fun to watch. Crossword enthusiasts in particular will enjoy the book: it includes six puzzles for readers to solve along with Belle, among them Harrison Briephs's posthumous cryptics.

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